Translink has released footage of young boys playing football on the Londonderry to Belfast railway line whilst announcing it has prosecuted 74 people for trespass and failure to stop at level crossings over the past 12 months, at a total cost to offenders of over £14,000.
Richard Knox, Head of Network Operations, Translink, said: “In the past year, NI Railways employees based around the rail network have reported some major risk taking by pedestrians, including a group of youths playing a football match on the tracks near Ballymoney station.
“We have also witnessed pedestrians hanging off barriers at level crossings and dashing across tracks moments before trains travelling at speeds of up to 70 mph are due to pass.”
Back in 2012 the Sentinel reported how hundreds of safety issues were being reported at unmanned level crossings on the Londonderry to Coleraine line.
Between 2007 and 2011 there were an incredible 1,208 safety issues reported at unmanned crossings in the North West.
The reports followed the tragic death of Limavady farmer James Craig (70) - whose father Thomas was Mayor of Londonderry in the 1970s - and who was killed at an unmanned crossing on the Carrowclare Road in August 2007.
Meanwhile, a driver and passenger were injured and the car in which they were travelling written off when a weed spraying train carrying out work on the Londonderry to Belfast line crossed a main road without warning in 2013.
The car driver was forced to take action in order to avoid a collision with the train which was traversing the Balnamore automatic half barrier level crossing (AHBC) on the Northern Ireland Railways’ (NIR) Londonderry to Belfast line just after 3am on Friday, May 31, 2013.
However, Translink says motorists are also continuing to take risks by attempting to beat the barrier or ignoring warning systems at level crossings, in order to save a few minutes.
Mr Knox said: “We would take this opportunity to remind motorists that we now have CCTV at the majority of our crossings and we will continue to prosecute offenders who take risks and put themselves, our employees and passengers at risk.
“The majority of prosecutions in 2014/15 against motorists were due to them ignoring warning signals at level crossings or attempting to ‘beat the barrier’ as the warning lights were flashing or the barriers were descending. We are working more closely than ever with colleagues in the PSNI to ensure that risk takers are identified.
“We also held a number of crossing awareness events around the rail network this summer at locations including Cullybackey, Antrim and Newtownabbey to educate motorists and pedestrians. At an average cost of almost £200 per prosecution, with the largest amount being over £500, these are significant amounts of money for an average motorist. Coupled with the potential of penalty points being applied to the driving licences of offenders, increased insurance policies and potential coverage in local media, these should all serve as strong deterrents to potential offenders.”